LAS VEGAS – Stories about trade show conventions losing half their audience in a post-COVID world turned out to be far off base for the RV Dealers Convention/Expo, which finishes a successful week-long run today (Nov. 12) at the Paris Las Vegas.
RVDA President Phil Ingrassia told RVBusiness on Thursday (Nov. 11) that although 2021’s attendance of 1,578 was off slightly from 2019 – the last in-person show, which was the largest attendance in nearly 20 years – everyone was very pleased the tally.
Hosted by the RV Dealers Association (RVDA), RVDA of Canada and the Mike Molino RV Learning Center, the Con/Expo is features a variety of education seminars, meetings and vendor exhibits. It is also noted for dealers and industry colleagues to rekindle relationships and friendships, which took on an even greater sense of purpose this week as last year’s Con/Expo was shifted to a virtual event due to the pandemic.
“People haven’t seen each other for 18 months or longer, so they’re really excited to be back in Vegas,” Ingrassia said. “Beyond the programming we have, which is really strong again this year, we have a great Expo. It’s a relationship business and people were really eager to get back together and learn some things and visit some of their business partners and have some fun, too.”
Perhaps in a sign of the strength of the attendance of this year’s show, most of the award-winners in two different events were in attendance.
At the RVBusiness Top 50 Dealer Awards banquet, only four were not attending. During the Quality Circle Awards, which are determined by the annual Dealer Satisfaction Index survey, only two were missing.
This was the first year the DSI awards were given during the convention.
Another trend during this year’s show was an increase in the number of Super Session training courses. These courses – due to the concentrated nature of the subject matter – are extended to two hours in order to fully examine the content.
An example is the Super Lawyers Panel, which helps dealers better understand how to avoid litigation.
“The Convention/Expo committee likes to mix it up, so we’ll see what we’re going to do next year based on the feedback from attendees,” Ingrassia said. “A lot of the workshops are dealing with things that are customer service issues. That’s really an important part because dealers were under a lot of stress and their employees had a lot of stress. Higher sales, higher service demand, supply chain issues – all of that comes into a perfect storm of issues that you need to deal with to keep those new market entrants in the business.”
Ingrassia said there were productive meetings, not only among dealers but also including manufacturers, that helped clear the air and make progress in issues that can help improve Repair Event Cycle Time.
The Expo portion of the show was sold out and included a number of new vendors that had not been part of the event before.
“I think it shows you there are a lot of companies looking at this industry as being a real economic leader and they want to be part of it,” he said. “We had a nice number of new exhibitors and of course our regular business partners who have been with us throughout the year made it very strong.”
The 2022 RV Dealers Convention/Expo is scheduled for Nov. 7-11, 2022, at Caesar’s Palace.